Acne-Safer Thanksgiving Dishes

by Emily Linehan on November 18, 2021
Updated October 11, 2022

One of the most important steps to staying clear is making sure you avoid all of your acne triggers. Around the holidays that can get tricky, as unfortunately many of the traditional dishes we share this time of year contain a lot of acne-triggering ingredients. With that being true, I think it's important to indulge on occasion… it is the holiday season after all! If you wait all year for your mom's special buttermilk pie or your aunt's cheesy mashed potatoes, of course, have it and enjoy it fully, guilt-free! We can worry about any breakouts that occur later!

However, if you are looking to make your holiday meals more acne-safe, I wanted to share some of my favorite (easy) tips with you to kick acne triggers out of Thanksgiving standards and still enjoy all of the holiday goodies!

Acne-Safer Butter

Butter is a Thanksgiving staple in turkey brine, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, and well, just about everything, but it isn't acne-safe. Fortunately, there are a few alternatives to using butter that still satiate your desire for that delicious flavor!

Target's Good & Gather line has a plant-based "butter" that is acne safe. Made with coconut oil, sunflower oil, and salted with sea salt, this spreadable butter is perfect for all of your Thanksgiving cooking, whether you're mixing it into your mashed potatoes or spreading it on your dinner rolls.

Another great option is Earth Balance’s Avocado Oil Spread. Made with avocado oil, palm oil, and sea salt, it will quench those buttery cravings without contributing to nasty breakouts. You can find Earth Balance at most major grocery stores, as well as smaller natural food stores.

Acne-Safer Cheese

So many appetizers (on Thanksgiving and otherwise) have actually can be tricky to find great appetizer recipes that don't have parmesan, brie, or something else. While cheese is delicious, it's a huge trigger for breakouts (that often will appear on your cheeks).

Cheese alternatives have really grown and developed over the past decade, to where there are many options that are easy to find and, most importantly, taste really good. 

Violife has two fantastic cheese alternatives worth mentioning - Just Like Cream Cheese Garlic & Herbs is made with coconut oil, potato starch, sea salt, and a variety of acne-safe herbs. It's a great option for any "brie-stuffed" appetizers on your Thanksgiving menu this season, or to mix in with your garlic mashed potatoes for a "creamy", yet acne-safe texture.

Violife also offers the Just Like Parmesan Wedge, which undeniably even looks like real parmesan. Made with potato and rice starch, coconut oil, and sea salt, this wedge can be substituted anywhere parmesan is called for in your recipes. It's great in potatoes, appetizers, salads, finger sandwiches, and more. 

If you're looking for a mozzarella imitator, Miyoko's Creamery makes a great mozzarella alternative out of cashew milk, coconut oil, tapioca, and sea salt. It's the perfect substitute for any kabobs, antipasto, Caprese salads, or appetizers requiring mozzarella.

Check out my full list of acne-safe dairy alternatives

Acne-Safer Stuffing

Though a standard in many homemade stuffing recipes, you will want to avoid store-bought poultry seasoning. However delicious it may be, most store-bought poultry seasonings are filled with iodized salt, which is an acne instigator. 

Instead, opt for homemade poultry seasoning! This recipe is highly rated and doesn't contain acne-triggering ingredients. You can absolutely salt your seasoning as well, just opt for pink Himalayan salt, sea salt, or another salt that isn't iodized. 

What would stuffing be without bread? Well, it wouldn't be stuffing because that's the main ingredient! White flour and refined sugar are both acne triggers, however, there are tons of great solutions. 

Sprouted flours, gluten-free flour mixes, and whole grain bread are all excellent alternatives. While shopping, just check the label for low sugar content and whole grains. Ezekiel Breads are a great option that you can find in most major grocery stores. 

*Note: Check the freezer section for Ezekiel Breads!

Acne-Safer Pies

Desserts are oftentimes the first thing people think of when they're thinking about what to avoid during the holidays, but it's actually easy to make pies that are acne-safe! 

The key is to avoid dairy, acne-triggering oils, white flour, and refined sugar. Nowadays, this isn't difficult to do with all of the options available to us. 

When it comes to the pie crust, if you're making it homemade, opt for gluten-free or whole wheat flour and sea salt. As your binding ingredient, do not use Crisco or butter. Both are huge acne triggers. Instead, use a vegan shortening like Nutiva Organic Shortening.

For the filling, if your recipe calls for butter, use any of the butter substitutes mentioned above. Pumpkin is acne-safe (and delicious!), so you can't go wrong there. Apples are also acne-safe. Try to cut back on refined sugar by using Stevia (my favorite is Sweet Leaf Stevia Drops), honey, or 100% pure maple syrup in lieu of cane sugar. These are all acne-safe and healthier for you anyway. You can also find more acne-safe sugar alternatives here.

If you like to top your pie off with whipped cream (who doesn't?!), So Delicious has a coconut whip free of dairy and soy. You can find it at most major grocery stores.

In summary, look to substitute the following in your recipes, and you will have made your Thanksgiving meals acne-safer and just as delicious... but also, don't forget to indulge sometimes. 

- Butter
- Cheese
- Milk (nut milks are fine)
- Soy
- Salt
- White flour
- Refined sugar

xoxo, Emme

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